5 Tips for Creating a Staff-Friendly Small-to-Medium Warehouse
Industrial – Workplace July 2016
Many factory workers find out what they don’t like in a workplace the hard (labour) way, on the warehouse floor. This has lead to an industry with a notoriously high turnover – but it doesn’t have to be this way. We want to help you to create an environment that your workers want to work in. Follow these tips to make your warehouse staff-friendly.
1. Eliminate workplace walkathons.
Many warehouses are adopting the Chaotic Storage system, depositing goods wherever there is spare space. But, unless you’re happy for your workers to sing your curses while they storm your aisles, go for an Easy Picking system instead. When planning the layout of your warehouse, think about grouping together the 20% of your products that make up 80% of your orders to cut travel time for your workers. They may not love you for it, but they won’t hate you either – let’s start there.
2. Get back to basics.
Behemoth distribution companies use electronic tracking to locate products, which, while accurate, involves pickers criss-crossing thousands of square feet to fulfil a day’s orders. You are, presumably, not the one of the world’s largest suppliers. If you are, in fact, one of the smallest, taping pictures on boxes so everyone knows what’s inside them can work surprisingly well (as long as you’ve organised your stock logically first), saving your workers both time and swear words.
3. Don’t treat people like robots. Treat robots like robots.
Some warehouses monitor their employees constantly via their scanners; letting supervisors know exactly where each worker is, along with their rhythm and productivity. If you’re worried about productivity, consider getting someone faster to do the job – or something. Pickers spend about 60% of their time moving products around. An automated system, such as conveyance, will reduce this hugely without making your employees feel like they’re charactersin 1984.
4. Set the (right) temperature.
Warehouses are big, airy places – ‘airy’ being the key word. A common complaint from warehouse workers is the cold. Installing a climate control system is the quickest way to achieve a more desirable temperature, but it’s also the most expensive. If your warehouse isn’t Amazonian (aka Amazon sized), bring in separate air conditioning and heating units to make individual work spaces comfortable, while keeping your stock at room temperature. Also, keep your indoor climate steady by spraying foam insulation around doors and windows; sectioning off loading bays; ensuring all doorways leading into your warehouse actually have doors and using draft stoppers under them to avoid giving your workers the kind of chills they don’t want multiplying.
5 Exchange pleasantries
Warehouses can be vast. But they don’t have to be vastly depressing. The KOP Warehouse in Brussels sets the standard, with its glass and corrugated iron shell, but there are many less dramatic things you can do to make your warehouse a place your workers want to be. Maximise your natural light as much as possible, if not through windows, then through installing a series of skylights to complement LED lighting . Consider brightening things up through colour too. Warehouses are usually 50-100 shades of grey, but why do they have to be? Russia’s brightly-painted ChelPipe factory was designed around the belief that a beautiful interior improves labour productivity and company morale – and they may be right.
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